President Trump declined on Friday to say he retains full confidence in Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and said Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley should have been “proud” to join him on the now-infamous walk across Lafayette Square.
Driving the news: “I personally think they should have done it differently,” Trump told Axios in an interview Friday in the Oval Office. “I think they should be proud to walk alongside of their president for purposes of safety.”
Why it matters: Despite initial indications that he accepted their pushback against him, Trump remains irked by his top military leaders’ public statements. Esper told colleagues he felt deeply uncomfortable being drawn into the photo op at St. John’s church, and Milley publicly apologized for his participation in the episode.